tv [untitled] March 11, 2011 8:00pm-8:30pm EST
for japan be on the brink of it's own sure noble country has now declared states of emergency for five nuclear reactors to power. sending mixed messages as the u.s. vice president praises a reset with russia another u.s. official seems to be stuck in another decade cold war mentality anyone. now with the old and in with the new is it time for the new york times to get on with the time the huffington post seems to think so we'll debate old media versus new.
it's friday march eleventh eight pm in washington d.c. i'm christine for us now you're watching our t.v. well the sun has now come up in japan and the fallout from japan's eight point nine earthquake is getting worse by the minute the tsunami that it triggered was the cause of some of the most dramatic pictures from that region homes swept up in the wave cars literally being washed off the highway people running and swimming for their lives well it turns out the chain reaction of events has made things a whole lot worse and the country has now declared states yes states of emergency for five nuclear reactors to power plants about twenty thousand people are being evacuated from the vicinity of the fukushima plant or a backup generator failed making it impossible for the cooling system to supply water to cool the reactor now we are hearing reports of radiation levels of one
thousand times normal inside that plant and there's a chance this could just be the beginning joining me now for more is kevin can specialise in nuclear waste and beyond nuclear and kevin it seems that this is truly a race against time i'm hearing japanese officials may only have hours. to cool the reactors that have been disabled where they could face a nuclear meltdown is that right one figure i've heard is that they may have as little as about ten hours at this point to restore cooling to one of the units at the fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant and just minutes before coming on the air i learned about the problems at three reactors at the fukushima me fukushima dai any nuclear power plant these are two separate nuclear power plants not that far apart but two reactors in crisis one three at the other and those latter three i just learned about and i've been following this. twelve hours ago more than that so the news that's coming out in the last hour is very alarming actually walk us
through this chain of events starting with the quake until now what had happened in regards to these nuclear sites the best information we have is that the earthquake itself the eight point nine quake knocked out the primary source of electricity to all the safety systems and cooling systems in these reactors which is the electrical grid so since that was down all of the reactors turned to backup power supplies mostly emergency these are generators but in many cases that has led to this crisis those emergency diesel generators have failed to operate normally one story that we heard today is that perhaps the tsunami itself knocked out the emergency diesel giant generators so kind of a double whammy and then when you lose the primary source of electricity in the secondary source of electricity there's one laughed at some of these reactors and that is the backup battery power supply which has a limited duration of operability of only forty eight hours so we're we're deeply into that time period at this point and once you lose all sources of electricity you can't run the water circulation pumps at these reactors and you have no cooling
whatsoever reaching the core and then the water in the core begins to boil the fuel can very quickly overheat to the point of suffering damage and then after that if it gets hot enough it can actually melt down so it's incredible even in the history of nuclear power which dates back over fifty years there have been a dozen or so atomic meltdowns in the history of commercial nuclear power they're fairly rare events they can be catastrophic lee huge like eternal and we'd spoke to someone just recently we tried to connect the dots maybe compare this to to now turn i will he says that what's happening here could actually be worse what do you think about this well turn over involved two hundred tons of nuclear fuel in the core of that unit for each and all the reactor first exploding and then burning along with it. moderator for ten days so that was the nature of that disaster but any nuclear power plant has mother loads of radioactivity in the
reactor core which is not being cool right now at some of these reactors also another mother load of radioactivity is in the pools for storing high level radioactive waste that has been removed from the reactor core the pools of gotten very little attention so far in the news coverage that's because the reactors are in such crisis and they're on such a short fuse in terms of time but the pools themselves need to be cooled for days they have to be kept under control and so within a day or two if the pools of last cooling as well which sounds very possible in a day or two and even bigger motherlode of radioactivity in the pools could catch on fire and the thing about the pools is they're not inside radiation containment the reactor cores at least are inside radiation containment buildings they happen to be very weak ones these are very old reactors very bad designs general electric these may be forty fifty years old in terms of when they were using that sort of technology from back then those reactor designs were so bad that their containments
were recognized decades ago was too weak to stand up to pressure build up some side they were retrofit with ventilation systems that would prevent the pressure which means a vent the steam to get the pressure down inside containment but when you vent the steam you're venting the radioactivity that's been going on for many hours at this point one of these units they're trying to reduce the pressure inside containment to prevent the containment from catastrophic league reaching well certainly we have been hearing reports one thousand times but not all of normal in terms of the radiation levels there what do people that live anywhere in that area need to be concerned about right now well the control room operators where that one thousand times normal reading was taken may have to provide gas masks to avoid breathing in radioactivity that could harm them. which will make communication between them more difficult to control this crisis situation the residents in the local area many hours ago two thousand residents three thousand residents were evacuated from
a distance of from the reactor out to three kilometers but people from three kilometers out to ten kilometers were told to shelter in place to stay within their homes and doors i think we're hearing. that even more up to twenty have actually been told in may i have now they may have greatly expanded the evacuation area which they should have done in the very beginning it sounds like because now that radiation is dreaming out of one of these reactors at least it is being carried by the steam it's going with the wind and people's homes are not airtight if there's cracks under doors if there's cracks under window sills this radioactive steam and radioactive particles being carried in the wind will enter their homes and they will be exposed to radiation any exposure to radioactivity carries a health risk even at low doses the higher the dose the greater the risk and so some of these statements that are coming out of the nuclear power industry coming out of the so-called safety agencies at the government level are real disservice
let's talk about some of the things the agencies i mean we've been getting mixed messages all day on you know we heard that there could be a problem and then we heard that the problem with some of these nuclear stations was contained back and forth but what's the deal here. it's a very serious situation when they're rushing back up power sources by military helicopter by ground transport. in a great hurry in an emergency to get him up there to restore cooling to the reactor core that's a very serious situation with the potential for a full scale meltdown and if the containment building fails which these containment buildings are old and badly designed. it could lead to a catastrophic release of radioactivity at this point it seems like it's a controlled so-called release of radioactivity but the indications are that things are not under control and they're simply venting the radioactive steam to the environment to prevent an even greater catastrophe of the containment building rupturing breaching. but as far as japanese news agencies and things that they're
reporting i do you think that they're trying not to alarm people i mean it sounds to me that they should be alarming people that they should write in telling people to be very concerned right now right evacuations have to be carried out in a very careful manner because panic can get in the way of an orderly evacuation but that's why the evacuation order should have been made many hours ago for such a large number of people and something that was said on fox news a little while ago was a government official in japan saying that this was the nuclear safety agency in japan saying that no immediate health risks are. happening to the public well it's a very deceptive use of the english language or the japanese language no immediate risks. cancers that would be caused by the exposure to this radioactivity may take years or even decades to develop but those latent cancer fatalities are very much. possible and would be caused by the radioactive exposure and those could be for
years and years to come when you and i were talking before we were talking about how yes you know we're coming up on the twenty fifth anniversary of chernobyl but the effects of what happened there will be felt for a lifetime and science knows what leagues and periods are there's a lot more to learn but for example we came in children has a very shortly and see period and so one of the first diseases to be seen after chernobyl for example was a dramatic rise in childhood leukemia another one that's related to reactor accidents like happened at chernobyl is the release of radioactive iodine gas which attacks the human by reuters and so in the downwind areas of chernobyl in ukraine belarus western russia massive increases in pathology especially in children almost unheard of diseases thyroid cancer in children and it's because the soviet government had covered up the accident for not only days but for weeks they downplay the significance people were exposed to radioactive iodine in the air in the milk from the palace because the i don't fell in the grass the cows eat the grass got in the milk people drank the milk it attacked their thyroid in poland by
contrast immediately upon learning of the disaster three days after it began because the swedish government first announced that the polish government distributed potassium iodide tablets to a population which protects the thyroid against radioactive iodine but there are hundreds of radioactive poisons in an atomic reactor and once they escape into the environment each one has its own pathway in the human body radioactive cesium one thirty seven attacks human muscle at six women muscle turn noble heart as a situation with children heart disease and children that should not be seen it seen in the turnover regions many things to be concerned about and to be thinking about i'm wondering when will we know we certainly. been following the events throughout the day things have changed throughout the day when we know if this is going to be devastating or if this might enter control as their only hours to prevent a meltdown at one of the units at the daiichi nuclear power plant in fukushima so
they're frantically i imagine trying to restore power to the emergency systems the safety systems the cooling systems and we're not clear on why that's not happening some good news is that one of the units at fukushima daiichi has gotten some electricity flowing to vital systems they've brought in mobile units mobile electricity generating units a dozen at one plant fourteen at the other why the one plan electricity supply won't flow i'm not sure what it means is that cooling is not happening in the reactor core and the longer that goes on i figure i've heard is just over ten hours perhaps to melt down at that reactor they need to restore cooling to the core and again the pools are another concern the pools need to be cooled within a day or two they also could boil away all the cooling water and then decades of waste in those pools could catch on fire and that is a massive amount of radioactivity even more than this in the core certainly a frightening situation and one that even you an expert sitting right here cannot
even predict what we'll see perhaps tomorrow we'll have a better idea kevin can specialist nuclear waste at the on to later and certainly when disaster like this occur the aftershocks motional financial even political are felt around the world now we live in a time when so much is interconnected the world is changing getting smaller or is it when it comes to this country's friends are and who are potential enemies are the top officials in this country who like to highlight how the landscape has changed and others whose rhetoric appears to harken back to cold war times take a look. certainly the right the russians have you know still have a very formal nuclear arsenal even with which does pose you know potentially a mortal threat to us americans ranked russia as one of the top five countries
threatening american security two years ago this year only true percent. of the entire american population say they view russia as a threat so it appears the top intelligence official in this country james clapper who you just saw there as part of that two percent what he did later backtrack and fay he was that we're talking about the capability when referring to russia and china as a quote mortal threat earlier i spoke to ivan eland senior fellow at the independent institute here's part of that conversation. well i think the problem that we have here is the or cold war thinking and you can talk about kill bill these intent and we can do that except we have a double standard in the country there are other nuclear powers that can hit the united states as well. and france and britain right and israel are those countries could all conceivably in some way get a weapon here in north korea can't yet but let's just take those countries we don't
think of them they have the capability to do it but we don't call them mortal threats whereas china and russia have the capabilities but we call them moral threats and i think this is left over from the cold war we think that all those other countries couldn't possibly be intending any ill will harm to the u.s. but but russia and china might well let's talk about this i mean take a guy like james clapper certainly older than you and i he grew up in a generation you know a time when it when russia was a threat when he was conditioned to believe that you know this red scare this was a dangerous place it was a dangerous time do you think that this is just some mentality that's left over do you think he sort of speaks for a generation that is still alive and making important decisions yeah i think so it's generational but i think they're also in the foreign policy community here in the united states though still some residue among even younger analysts on russia because of the cold war and to some extent china as well because of the history of
the cold war you know that's forty some years of hostility and it takes a while to get rid of that and i think the obama administration is moving their traction i think the intent of the obama administration with the arms control treaty and other improvements and u.s. russia relations i think is moving the policy but you still have people who talk this way and he does probably even he probably was talking about capabilities and intent but the problem is his mindset is still in the old ways and it's probably somewhat generational yes well that's what i was going to ask i mean why do you suppose when asked you know. directly asked this question i believe from the senator from west virginia joe manchin why do you think that he didn't say pakistan or india or iran well i do i just think you know that china and russia traditionally in the cold war were the enemies and they also had the biggest nuclear arsenals and of course by his standards the u.s. would be the biggest enemy of those two countries the biggest mortal threat as
senator levin pointed out to him that if you take the standard the other way you know you have to you have to deal with that so if you're talking about capabilities the united states has the most robust nuclear arsenal on the planet how do we change this you know how how do you see in the future or this changing i mean do we just wait for this you know the new generation to sort of take charge of the new way of thinking where you know we grew up in a time where we have the start treaty where we have you know we're friendly with russia. what needs to change for these statements not to be made any more but i think time will help and i think the more the more we can improve relations and the more we get past the cold war both in time and in mentality you know these people will retire and that sort of thing and i think the situation will be improved so i think you know that as long as we improve relations and keep to keep things moving in the right direction this this mentality will pass and i think one thing that will occur is that china will probably become the biggest threat because of the
economic growth and the double digit increases in defense of course their defense budget is still much lower than the u.s. is but this will become the threat so actually russia may benefit from that because . one of the reasons that we're the united states is improving relations with russia is to use as a counterweight to china and this is the exact opposite of what richard nixon did in the seventy's he developed a relationship with china which was more radical than the soviet union to use as a counterweight against the soviet union so it's just a reversal of policy but it's the same it's the same sort of container. strategy and we saw in the situation we showed earlier james clapper you know kind of grouping russia and china together we remember we have this strategic arms reduction treaty with russia we don't have it with china do you think that's going to play a role in like you said making china the next target well i think so but i think actually it's reversed i think the arms reduction treaty was a result of the improvement in russian relations and i think that the reason for
that is because u.s. is you know encircling china we're improving relations with india which we were a traditional folk during the cold war and we're strengthening the alliances in the east around china as well so i think you're seeing in and circumvent of china and us russian relations the improvement of those are designed to. complete the circuit and that was ivan eland thing your fellow at the independent institute. well moving on now to a different kind of tension that exists between the old guard and the new i'm talking about journalism and what is often a tug of war between the older more established press like say the new york times and the new or web centered publication like for example the having to post in time there is a battle brewing between those specific organizations that started when editor bill keller wrote a piece starfleet critical of the huffington post and its format you know linking
to several different sources on its on its site here with us georgetown university professor of journalism professor chris cameras chris less confident about this has really turned into as an interesting theatrical that we've been sort of take place back in for us. now huffington post we've all been on the site big headlines a lot of different subject matter how we say bill keller new york times he calls this aggregation and he says quote the queen of aggregation is of course arianna huffington who has discovered that if you take celebrity gossip adorable kitten videos post front page bloggers and news reports and other publications he says you know people will come so you know on one hand we've got to look at the numbers here arianna huffington elise estimates that estimates that she has seventy percent more unique page views than a new york times so what's going on here with us back and forth is it's a lot more complicated than
a battle of you know godzilla versus road and in the old japanese monster movies it's it's not an ego thing it is a structural thing but it's also not as close as top located or not well complicated not as simple as old media versus new in new york times has invested a lot into beefing up its online presence yes or area on the turns around and says well we have a lot more people coming to see you know of the new lot a lot more people go see a stupid romantic comedy than a or. really complex drama i mean there's no mystery there and the fact is the new york times is the source of a lot of the news that they aggregate on to other sources in other words yes they do to pick and choose and cherry pick other stories you know based their essays and their stories on other people's work because there's not a lot of original news gathering here anymore and we've talked about that and we're cutting back bureaus excedrin so that does happen they do aggregate yes but they're not as much of show business or stupidity as keller might think either i mean they
do have a have a pretty good professional staff and we did mention that the new york times has lost some of their you know months well not staff members to have to walk out and post in the daily beast and others i mean yes so they're in the circus that every killer seems to think they are he referred to them once as a as a as a slave galleys commanded by pirates i mean there are some documents that there but he is he's being a little bit too so simplistic she is probably being a little bit too high in my the update and truth is in the middle somewhere well as it always is but we also have to look at the money that follow the money that across new york times losing money and how much longer does this continue i mean certainly bill keller said in his article he said you know we inferred that they are the real dirt or you know and that i am having to pay some of her we are left not to use their content on her web site but the fact is when it comes to
a business the l a l well in my new york times a well i haven't been polarized because it's not as a good deal but you know it can i mean. there's there's a cadillac and there's a subaru i mean a new york times is still a cadillac it's going to be plotting it's going to be slow but it has that it's called the gray lady it has that brand and it's worth a lot more money believe it or not then that huffington post and what a.o.l. paid for huffington post because it is creating real content the reporters are really going out and tracking down sources eccentric cetera so they have that going for them but but again in the present climate where people are mining news for people are looking for stuff that appeals to them and a validates their own point of view you could say validates a liberal point of view with huffington post validates a conservative point of view with fox and certain blogs people aren't looking for that deep analysis they're looking for stuff that validates their own opinions or
they can get those quick hits be it about politics or charlie sheen i was just about to say i know people also work for it even intelligent people look for the guy that they look for those cute kitten videos do you need those cute kitten videos those gossip those blogs yet to be successful doesn't appear you do but you can mix it and i think that again the times is a little bit over here but moving towards huffington post i think in post as well is way over here but it's moved everything is moving towards the middle you need to kittens you need charlie sheen but you need the real news you need the sources of news not just aggregating and putting your name on stuff and i think that that had a lot to do with the problems here i think she got a little miffed because he more or less accused her personally of plagiarism so yes it did jump to the ego thing but again there's something beneath the ego and she grabbed a bunch of examples to say look you know why she hadn't plagiarized her piece ended by the way with your current bill in this battle in this fight which could be
somewhat playful who wins who wins that argument and who wins long term success that'll i think i think they're both when i mean again your turn bill obviously there's something. i mean you don't have to be a media specialist to see that somebody is setting up for some for some more eyeballs on sites and more talking on the on the news as we are now i think both were new york times is building a wall so that people will they can charge people for their content she is obviously building a huge brand over at a.o.l. they're both when the long run will see the new york times going down any time soon all right journalism professor at georgetown university chris chambers thanks for joining us as well as unrest in the middle east continues we turn now to some examples of countries whose undemocratic regimes and close ties to washington that the obama administration in a bind planned day of rage in saudi arabia well it never happened with the protesters hopes were dashed by strict security measures and stern warnings by saudi officials against any protest at all so where does the u.s.
fit in much of the government say and that doesn't seem tidy arabia is being treated differently earlier i posed that question for michelle shouted off the director of the center for research on globalization. saudi arabia. by us protectorates or. more likely put we are they are very much dependent on the united states they are oil a call that means they have a very strategic. and a mole working in saudi arabia has been is all to protect the interests of the united states. what happened so they can sell you a rig or was i think more of a media show rather than a real protest. was there were protests in eastern. saudi arabia or merely the she. who have been. discriminated against.
there were other parts of this which were never reported and there were protests. migrant workers that has in effect. in the gulf states. the local population which constitutes perhaps fifty percent of the work force. other than fifty percent of pakistanis filipinos sri lankans. and people from other arab countries and those people really they don't protest because they're scared to be poor to their bare victimized by their employers they have very low wages. yet there was a protest movement in january by filipino workers it front page you and this. this protest which is by a sagely relatively at least the ones in riyadh relatively well to do biddle
class people. from the reports that we got it was thought so much pro-democracy there were also some people on facebook who were saying oh yes we must protect this. sort of so for so i think what i think is. this subtlety of it was a little bit exaggerated by the media in comparison to even the what was happening in yemen in her own in a rock it was day of rage in iraq would be several days of rage very little reports and of course what's happening in libya is absolutely crucial. these only radio in the gulf states that have said libya is an unfriendly nation we don't recognize it is illegitimate but of course coming from their with their autocratic
governments that person to credible either you know in libya the situation is extremely dangerous because first of all western leaders now recognizing. the revolutionary or a rebel government they are threatening to intervene militarily. no fly zone is extremely high interest because it's total militant decoration of war anybody who has a minimal understanding of military strategies knows that the real plot lies or will imply a bombing campaign. and that was michelle something ask a director of the center for research on globalization and i want to take you now to one last live look in japan it is morning there saturday morning the sun has come up after what has been certainly a treacherous disastrous and certainly tragic twenty four hours for that country of course we're talking about the earthquake that hit an eight point nine earthquake and then triggering.